In my last post The gift transformed into a debt I pointed out a group of traditional conservative women who were shamelessly discussing what men owe them, even down to when it might or might not be appropriate for a man to enter a lifeboat. I have to say I’m still stunned at the discussion. I can’t understand how a group of people can so casually discuss the way others must sacrifice for them, because those others aren’t worth as much as they are. The thing is, these conversations feel very normal for most women. I doubt they have ever been called on how incredibly crass it is. How can they possibly think this is ok? Do they have no shame whatsoever?
Commenter Deti entered Sheila’s blog and had a polite exchange with her:
There’s a difference between a man holding a door for his wife, and holding the door for a stranger woman. He has moral obligations to protect his wife. He has no obligations, moral or otherwise, to the stranger.
It used to be that men came to the aid of women — any women — who obviously needed help. Any man who does this now might find himself scolded, excoriated or even accused of harassment.
No one should be surprised that it has come to this. Feminist society has made sure that men feel wary of ever interacting publiclly or privately with any woman they are not related to. And frankly, the church has done scant little to combat this, instead in many instances joining forces with feminism to promote female “equality” over biblical principles.
Deti, I’d disagree with your assessment that he has no obligations to the stranger. By saying that, then you’re giving in to the feminist mentality.
If honour and respect are universal, then we do have moral obligations to each other, even strangers. We have obligations to honour and respect them, and one of the ways to do that would be to hold a door open. If feminists get mad about that, that’s really their problem, because they’re the ones who are forgetting the universal and timeless principles, not the one holding the door.
Yes, feminists have created this society, but that does not mean that we have to give in to it.
The false claim here is that women like Sheila are different than those feminists who want to free women from accountability to men. Because of this, men must still be responsible for women like her. The truth is that Sheila and arguably most traditional conservative women are really just feminist-lite. For example, consider her post When the world isn’t safe for women, where Sheila contemplated the Laura Logan incident:
I think sometimes we forget how vulnerable women can be. I am not saying that Ms. Logan acted foolishly; she likely knew what she was risking, and CBS likely did, too, and she chose to go anyway. That is what reporters do, and it is a risk they are willing to take. Male reporters and cameramen have been attacked, kidnapped, beaten, and killed, too, in the Middle East this year. It’s a dangerous job, but a lucrative and rewarding one, and I guess she took a risk that in retrospect was too much.
Laura Logan is a woman, what’s wrong with a little roar? you might say. After all, women are adults who can make their own choices and accept the accompanying risk.
Not quite. To Sheila women are adults until they need men, in which case they more resemble an unattended eight year old. From her exchange with Deti:
…given how vulnerable women are, I do think that men should watch over women if they’re in a potentially dangerous situation, in the same way that if I see a child under 8 walking around alone in a mall, I immediately stop what I’m doing and make sure there’s a caregiver in sight. That child is nothing to me, but what kind of person would I be if I didn’t check to make sure the child was safe?
Isn’t that just a little bit paternalistic to compare women to unattended children? Why yes, but only if we are talking about limiting women’s choices. Sheila explains in her Lara Logan post (emphasis mine):
…I don’t think we should kid ourselves about women in combat. They aren’t safe; they just aren’t. And women are at a far greater risk when they are in combat than men, because if we are captured, far worse things are almost guaranteed to be done to us than will ever be done to a man.
Should a country allow women to be raped or killed, when there are able bodied men not serving in the military? Even if those women are willing to take the risk?
That’s a tough question. Lara Logan was willing to take the risk, and it didn’t turn out well. But it was still her decision, and to say that she can’t go because she’s a woman seems paternalistic. It’s like saying that a woman can’t decide to be a missionary in a dangerous land, even if she feels called to do so, because it may be dangerous. We applaud women who risk their lives for the sake of the gospel; obviously no gospel is involved in what Ms. Logan was doing, but I don’t think we can say one is wrong and the other right. In both cases, women are taking the responsibility for themselves on themselves.
For those in the TLDR camp, I’ll summarize:
I want! I want! I want! See, women can do that too!